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What are the stages of grief?

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Quick Answer

The five stages of grief were originally theorized by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and include Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. The theory that grieving individuals go through these five stages was proposed in her book, "On Death and Dying," which was published in 1969.

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What are the stages of grief?
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Full Answer

As individuals work through grief over negative events in their lives, the theory suggests that they go through five stages. First, they deny that the event happens. Then, they feel angry about the event occurring and may express their outrage. Next, they begin to bargain with a higher power, the universe or an unidentified entity in an effort to return life back to the way it was. They then may experience a period of depression before finally accepting that life has been forever altered.

A common misconception is that everyone must pass through each stage of grief before the process is considered complete. However, Kubler-Ross stated that the stages were not meant to be an all-encompassing model of the grieving process. In reality, individuals may experience many emotions as they grieve. They may feel multiple emotions at once, work through the stages out of order or skip a stage entirely.

The Five Stages model is considered useful by many therapists as well as doctors working with terminally ill patients. The basic structure helps these individuals to understand a complicated emotional process, breaking it down into identifiable steps that are easy to recognize.

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